Have you noticed these symbols or on blogs or news sites? Or that some sites have a link to “RSS Syndication”, or “Subscribe to this site’s feed”? Have you clicked on those links?
Well, if you haven’t you are in for a treat. Let’s say you have 50 sites you really like (blogs, news sites, online communities, etc.). Some may have new items daily, some every few months. It would be unrealistic to try to check them all every single day to see if there is something new. Here’s where News Aggregators come in.
A News Aggregator is a program or website that reads all those RSS files, and tell you which sites have new items and which don’t. So in other words, you go to your aggregator, and check your 50 sites at once.
The aggregator I use is Google Reader. I have close to 70 sites I keep an eye on with it (more than 20 of them about yarn). Here’s a screen shot (click to enlarge):
As you can see, on the left column I have all the sites I’m subscribed to (I chose to display only the ones with new items), and on the right there is a list of all the latest news items for the selected site. Some sites show the entire story, others just an excerpt, but if you click on the news’ title, it will take you to the website so you can read it in full there.
If you click on “Settings”, you can organize your sites in folders, or change Google Reader’s language.
To add a site to your list, you can click the “Add Subscription” button and enter the site’s URL (address). Alternatively, if you are using Firefox, you can click on the RSS icon on the site (or subscription invitation), and choose to add it to Google Reader.
Google Reader is only one alternative. My Yahoo! and Bloglines are also two popular online aggregators. There are also some programs you can download to do it, like AmphetaDesk, FeedReader, and NewsGator.